SUQUAMISH, WA -- They may be different nations, but Native American tribes across the United States are being impacted by the federal shutdown in Washington D.C., putting a variety of programs and services at risk.
Washington State has 29 federally recognized tribes that recieve at least a portion of its operating budget from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which operates within the U.S. Department of Interior. As part of the shutdown, more than 2,500 bureau employees were furloughed.
Local tribes with casinos, like the Suquamish in Kitsap County, have more secure financial situation to whether the shutdown. But if it drags on, budgets could become tight, according to tribal chairman Leonard Forsman.
"It could start to effect our programs," he explained, "And the fact that we won't be able to fund them at the level we're currently doing and provide services to the reservation is frustrating."
Forsman said the Suquamish Tribe gets about one-third of its operating money from the federal government.
Smaller, more rural tribes without that security are struggling with the shutdown. Many have stopped food and health programs while others have closed altogether. That is because with the Bureau of Indian Affairs on furlough, staff cannot dole out necessary funding, Forsman explained.
"They've got so many needs that, losing that money over a period of time, they don't have the resources," he said.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs supports 1.7 million Native Americans nationwide.